Feedback: Group Looks At St. Lawrence County For Veterans Hospital
Local veterans Joe Cosentino, Jerry Peo and Don Cooke have some big dreams for some old and unused Ogdensburg buildings.
"It will help the veterans in the long, long trip to Syracuse. Some have to go to Buffalo. Some have to go to Albany because Syracuse is full," said Cosentino.
With more than 37,000 veterans living in the north country, many are forced to travel long distances for medical care and other services.
That wouldn't have to happen, they say, if the abandoned Pritchard Pavilion building at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center could be turned into a veterans hospital.
"We need a place like that where veterans will be together," said Peo.
Another building that is being considered for possible use is the former St. Joseph Nursing Home, which has been sitting vacant for several years.
Some say it would be a prime spot to one day become a nursing home for veterans.
"It will create jobs for the whole community," said Cooke.
Korean War veteran Charles Rheome says he agrees more attention should be given to local veterans needs and feels using the city-owned nursing home building for a veterans home is a worthwhile plan that should be pursued.
The members of the newly formed "Operation Veterans" group have already started laying the groundwork for the ambitious plan and are inviting interest.
They hope to bring local, federal and state politicians on board to pursue funding and other necessary approvals.
Supporters of the idea say its a win-win situation that could also become an economic engine for the Ogdensburg area.
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